Last week, the Santa Barbara Bowl's 2017 Concert Season kicked off with Sigur Rós playing to a full house of fans. Rain was off and on throughout their show. This obviously made things difficult to carry around a hunk of expensive electronic gear. Fortunately, pro camera gear tends to be quite resistant to rain. Furthermore, the roof of the stage pavilion at the Bowl extends out to cover the 10-20 feet of the floor. This means that all of us photographers were covered while shooting. The trick was in unpacking and packing up the gear in the uncovered staging area.
All in all, it worked out because I got some great photos. I shot with a brand new Canon EOS 1D-X Mark II, which replaced my aging 1D Mark IV. The newer camera has a significantly improved focusing system, but the button layout is slightly changed, so I fumbled with it a bit.
We were permitted to shoot songs 2, 3 & 4 of the second set. There was no opening act.
The1975 had one of the coolest stage designs I've ever seen. Not only was the entire backdrop a video wall, but there were large, square columns, also made of video wall construction. The lighting designer made the show amazingly dynamic, at one point dressing the stage as a miniature city of skyscrapers. The shiny stage floor topped off the visual experience.
The house was a smaller, intimate crowd, and the young girls made ear-piercing screams.
Check out the full gallery at sbbowl.com/photos
Nor-Cal rapper, G-Eazy played to a full house at the Santa Barbara Bowl last weekend. "This is the loudest audience I've ever played for," he exclaimed, eliciting an even louder roar, filled with a lot of high-pitch screaming from young girls.
Although the stage was very well decorated, the spots were very hot on Eazy's white jacket, making shooting conditions tough. The pit wasn't too tight, so it wasn't too difficult to manuever. G was pretty dynamic and his persistent smile gave away his great mood.
Guests, Nef The Pharaoh, Marty Grimes and Daghe, made for a picturesque crew.
Florence + the Machine came back to the Santa Barbara Bowl again this year and played to a sold out house. This was easily in the top few performances of the year, and Florence Welch was truly humbled by the warm welcome she got. You can't fake the sincerity I saw in her eyes and smile when she thanked the cheering crowd for coming to see her.
Although I was stuck in the same spot on the side of the photo pit for the entire three songs I shot, Florence is so dynamic, jumping around stage and never sitting still, that I had plenty of opportunities to capture all different lights and angles of her performing. In fact, I had a hard time narrowing it down to the 40 images from this show posted on sbbowl.com/photos. My favorite photos of her were horizontal, but those aren't optimum for this news page, so be sure to check them out in the Bowl's gallery.
I was glad that this year, she had no restrictive contract to sign. Opening the show was Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, featuring John Lennon' son, Sean Lennon.
Indie rock legend, Hozier, played to a full house at the Santa Barbara Bowl last week. The show was definitely one of the season's best. Little Green Cars opened the night's performance. I shot both acts from the photo pit, which was as tight as ever. Luckily there were only a few photographers. The stage was simple but the music was great.
See the whole photo gallery on sbbowl.com/photos.
Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band returned to the Santa Barbara Bowl again this year, and just like last year, I had to leave early to shoot the first night of the New Noise Festival. This year, the shooting conditions were much more restrictive and challenging that last. I got to shoot the first three songs from the soundboard, which was busy with lots of people and equipment. The duration was acceptable, but Mr. Buffett was mostly blocked by his mic stand, or he was turned without facing me. The lighting wasn't terribly dull but it was oddly difficult to shoot under.
Anyway, you can see the images on sbbowl.com/photos.
Jungle opened this show, playing with both stage light and ambient evening light. This made for easy shooting, yet still with some dramatic looks. Also, I got to shoot three songs from the photo pit, then the rest of their performance from the floor and donor section (ADA, center). By the time alt-J started their set, it was dark, and the stage was filled with lots of smoke and backlight. This made shooting very difficult, for all but artsy silhouettes; those shots came out great, but photos of their faces weren't great.
Anyway, check out the full gallery on sbbowl.com/photos.
This year's KJEE Summer Roundup brought Of Monsters & Men, Walk the Moon, Family of the Year and The Blues & Greys. I was permitted to shoot the first three songs of each act from in the photo pit, which resulted in lots of great images. The only act who played in darkness and stage lighting was OMAM, and their photos were the most dramatic, but musically, I thought that Walk the Moon stole the show.
Check out the substantial photo gallery at sbbowl.com/photos.
Electronic dance musicians Chromeo played at the Santa Barbara Bowl, with The Glitch Mob opening the show. Disk jockey, Com Truise got the beat going before Glitch came out. I shot Truise from the ADA section and the other two bands from the photo pit, three songs for each. As I was unfamiliar with all of them, I was happily surprised at the audial and visual treats they provided. The stage contraption which housed Glitch's setup was quite interesting, and the theatrical smoke and lights only made it more interesting to photograph.
A photographer's dream, Chromeo topped the charts with the brightest stage lighting I've every shot. Lots of images were high-key, drowning in light, which was reflecting off the smoke and chrome instruments. I typically shoot stage lighting at minus 1 to 2 stops, but for much of the Chromeo show, I had to shoot at plus 1 to 2.
Check out the full gallery on sbbowl.com/photos.
Robert Plant returned to the Santa Barbara Bowl with his most recent backup band, The Sensational Space Shifters. This is the same band he toured with a couple years ago, and they are superb, nailing the classic Led Zeppelin tunes to a tee. Last time they were here, I was able to shoot from the ADA section, but this time, I was stuck at the soundboard. I did get three full songs and was able to get some decent images. The lighting wasn't fantastic, as far as photography goes, but I still got some good stuff. I had to convert some of them to black & white to bring back detail that was lost by single-color floods, like the bright reds they used.
J.D. McPherson opnened the show, and I got to shoot them from in the photo pit.
Check out the full gallery at sbbowl.com/photos.